Thanks Kevin, I've always enjoyed your program but never seem to remember to watch on the weekends when its on here. The internet format suits me a lot better.
It would be interesting to break out the Ontario farm debt numbers a little more between those who depend on agriculture as a primary means of income and those where it is supplemental to one or two outside family incomes. If my wife and I both work off farm and earn a decent living and then farm a little bit on the side then my debt load relative to income is going to be a different issue than if the farm is my only source of income. It would be interesting to get at some of the reasons in the large difference between here in Ontario and western Canada.
I am surprised beyond belief about the Ag land price increases over the past few years. The mentality of speculating with Ag land for a quick buck is counter to historical evidence. Ag land is not like the stock market where you can buy stocks and sell the next day if needed. If the market goes sour (like it has), the title holder is stuck with huge minimum interest payments costs incapable of being absorbed by Ag production revenues. Ag land is not easily transferable, it is not a product that has a ready market, it has remained an exclusive commodity for a very small group of buyers and sellers. With the creation of financial instruments such as land trusts this has changed but only slightly. What the land trusts don't understand is the relationship between the land and the sustainers of the land. Historically this relationship goes beyond industrial terminology such as" production, yield, input, etc". I do not believe the relationship between stewardship and land production can or should change. We have good evidence that the past 40-50 years of this type of separation between this inseparable relationship is counter productive to land sustainability.
The present land grab will in short time leave allot of unhappy share holders in land trusts and speculators. It's like a tight wound clock ready to unwind. I see evidence of this unwinding in pockets of the country where high value production land is prized for all the wrong reasons. The Greenbelt Act in Ontario has taken away the opportunity of residential/ commercial land development and is trying to return the land back to it's rightful purpose, that being Ag production. But no one in his/her right mind will buy land at its present price because the prices does not reflect Ag potential. Land has been sitting fallow for a number of years and the last stat. report from the government shows an alarming reduction in farms in the area since 2001. The fundementals of supply and demand have never failed. Whether through government intervention, supply of a commodity or other factors. Land prices will return back to their production values or a continueing exodus from agriculture will continue. The latter scenario is frightening since the agricultural community is the community that feeds the country. Right now the present land values place the citizens of Canada in a position of future food beggers. A reduction in a wide variety of food production will leave us vulnerable to the supply networks of international food production and also makes us vulnerable to their system of agriculture.
As the reader can see there is allot to think about when we as a country talk about land prices. Farmers are amazing people, a profession that is unique in many ways. With speculation on land prices this profession will continue to experience unecessary stress from financial structures that have no place in the sustainability of Canadian agriculture.